FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Culminating a four-month initiative March 25, a biometrics team from the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade was in Colombia to demonstrate a device that could help the Colombian military improve force protection.

Col. Jim Lee, brigade commander, and Pedro Nunez, U.S. Army Southern Command's liaison officer to Colombia, began the initiative.

Lee directed Shawn Porter, the brigade biometrics division's identity operations manager, to work on a biometric collection system to help the Colombians with force protection issues.

"Clearly, a new capability and strategy was needed," Porter said.

A biometric collection system uses computer science to recognize individuals through physical traits, which allows for identity access to restricted areas.

Porter explained that their objectives included stopping or deterring unknown individuals from entering and leaving Colombia's operational bases, and interdicting persons of interest at local checkpoints.

Beginning last November, the biometric working groups began to develop a biometric device that would attain those objectives. In addition, they specified that the device would be light weight, include all the biometric modality components, and be Spanish language-capable.

Their efforts resulted in deployment of one biometric system for test and evaluation with the Colombians. It is up to the Colombians whether they would like to pursue this capability.

"U.S. Southern Command, in coordination with the brigade's biometrics division, is trying to sustain the current progress of this initiative and capitalize on future capabilities for the Colombians," Porter said. "As the biometric enterprise matures and advances, the Colombians can advance their forensics capability."